The Age of Empire: 1875-1914 is a historical book written by Eric Hobsbawm. The author described the period as significant towards the development of our present global economy and politics. One important thing about the book is that the author divides historians of the 19th century into two groups: those who look forward for new explanations and ideas regarding the future and the present and those who look backward with great nostalgia.
Hobsbawm does this by expressing their opinions and ideas regarding the position of the world and its future (Hobsbawm 43). He presents some historians who consider the past as the determinant of the present. The historians consider the ideas of religion and history with nostalgia. The new forces that seem to take effect in the world amaze these historians.
On the other hand, the author presents the other group of historians who look forward for ideas regarding the present and the future. He does this by presenting their thoughts about capitalism, religion and imperialism. With such ideas, they are keen to study the present and project what might happen in the future. Some of the individuals believe that there will never be any significant wars in the future while others are non-optimistic. Instead, they are busy preparing for any wars and conflicts in the future (Hobsbawm 46).
I believe the author belongs to the second groups of historians who are anxious about the future. The author examines the past and present events thereby using them to explain the possible future to the readers. At the time, different nations and dominating powers were interested in new cultures.
The progress would have new impacts and developments in the future. Throughout the book, the author offers an analysis of the development of imperialism and capitalism, and then examines their roles towards the world wars (Hobsbawm 87). The author remains optimistic that capitalism would survive the global conflicts. It is notable that Hobsbawm is one of these historians who look forward for ideas and answers regarding the future.
Liberal Bourgeois Capitalism of the mid-19th Century
In the book, Hobsbawm has managed to distinguish between the liberal bourgeois capitalism of the 19th century. The author identifies the bourgeois capitalism as a movement that led to the development of aristocracy. However, this would be marginalized by the influence and power of the upper middle class. The bourgeois benefited from the new ideas of capitalism. As a result, they were able to control most of the affairs and activities in the society.
This capitalism became very strong during the industrial revolution. The force inspired the establishment of imperialism and global power (Hobsbawm 98). This would lead to colonialism with the West dominating the entire world. Afterwards, conflicts would develop thereby giving rise to the First World War.
Invention of Tradition
Hobsbawm offers an important argument regarding the invention of tradition. At the time of rising mass politics, the author identifies that different nations were competing for success and dominance. However, they wanted to do this while maintaining their unique culture and tradition. The idea of inventing a tradition would become a critical development in the age of mass politics (Hobsbawm 124). This was characterized by global influence and enthusiasm for empire. The Europeans nations were concerned about their unique tradition and identity. The only way they could promote the tradition was through establishment of global empires. This changes the politics of the world with many nations managing to invent and retain their traditions.
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire: 1875-1914. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.